Temple Times Online Edition
    November 7, 2006
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Temple has rock-solid presence
at the Geological Society of America's national meeting


The Geological Society of America held its national meeting in Philadelphia Oct. 22–25, and although the University of Pennsylvania played official host for the nearly 6,000 geologists visiting the Delaware Valley, the meeting provided the opportunity for Temple’s geology department, as well as faculty and students from other disciplines, to showcase its research.


From organizing sessions and moderating panels, to presenting papers and posters, to recruiting students and hosting alumni, Temple faculty and students were involved many of the event’s activities.


No one at Temple was busier or more involved than associate professor Laura Toran, the Weeks Chair in Environmental Geology.  She served as program chair for the division of hydrogeology, organizing the division’s 36 sessions; co-authored four papers, and served as co-leader for a field trip on Philadelphia urban hydrology.


Associate professor Jonathan Nyquist, who shares the Weeks Chair in Environmental Geology, co-chaired a session on “Detection of Voids, Tunnels and Collapse Features” and co-authored an invited paper, “Rayleigh-wave diffractions due to near-surface features.”


Two of Nyquist’s students, Hallie Meighan and Matt Heaney, presented papers, “Mise-à-la-masse, resistivity tomography and smoke tests combined to map karst, Easton, Pa., (Meighan)” and “Marine resistivity as a tool for characterizing seepage zone at Lake Lacawac, Pa. (Heaney)”


Dennis Terry, associate professor of geology and the campus representative for GSA, organized and co-chaired a theme session on “Eocene-Oligcene climate change” that featured speakers from the United States and Europe, and authored or co-authored seven papers, including “Paleoclimatic change across the terrestrial Eocene-Oligocene boundary of the northern Great Plains: the paleosol perspective.”


Three of Terry’s graduate students presented papers:  Audra Shemkovitz, “A lithostratigraphic comparison between the Cape Fear Formation and an unnamed non-marine unit of the southeastern Atlantic Coastal Plain;” Gary Stinchcomb, “Soilscape analysis of the Scenic-Poleslide Member boundary, Badlands National Park, South Dakota;” and Jason Mintz, “When the Badlands went dry: a paleopedologic investigation of climate change in the Oligocene of South Dakota.”  In addition, Terry participated in a post-conference field trip to investigate the paleontology and depositional environments of the 370-million–year-old Catskill Formation, a time marked by major global changes in fossil flora and fauna.


Professor and department chair David Grandstaff presented “The effects of provenience and taphonomy on rare earth and trace element signatures in vertebrate fossils from the Eocene-Oligocene White River Group, Toadstool Geologic Park, Crawford, Neb.,” a paper he co-authored with Terry.


Student Kathleen Gross presented a paper, “Spring monitoring in an urban karst system,” co-authored with Toran and fellow student Youa Yang.


In additional to geology, faculty and students from chemistry, engineering and psychology also presented research at the GSA meeting.


Nora Newcombe, professor and the James H. Glackin Distinguished Faculty Fellow in psychology, presented “Are men better visualizers?” a paper on sex differences in visualization and their relevance to geoscience education.


Sudeep Debnath, a chemistry student, presented a poster on behalf of chemistry professor Daniel Strongin, "Reactions at Mineral-Water Interfaces:  The Role of Solute Adsorption on Contaminant Co-Adsorption, Mineral Dissolution and Colloid Behavior,” on which Debnath collaborated.


Two graduate students and one postdoc working with Michel Boufadel, associate professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering, presented.  Qinghong Zhao presented a poster on contaminant transport in coastal aquifers.  Ibrahim Ibrahim had an abstract for a paper titled “Locally inversed salinity distribution in a sloping-beach cross-section” at a session on Salinization Processes and Problems in Coastal and Inland Aquifers.  These papers were co-authored with Boufadel and postdoc fellow Hailong Li, who also presented a paper on tidally influenced beaches.


The GSA also provided an opportunity to advertise and recruit for graduate students and geology faculty and students manned a booth during the four days.  “We had many undergraduate students from outside the Philadelphia region come up to our booth to ask about our graduate program because they had the chance to experience Philadelphia, enjoyed their visit, and wanted to return for graduate research,” said Terry.


Finally, on behalf of the geology department, Toran organized a reception for Temple geology alumni and close to 30 former students reunited with faculty to reminisce and reconnect with old friends.

Preston M. Moretz




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